Richardson is about to lose top players and couldn’t be happier

It was business as usual for Binghamton Senators coach Luke Richardson as he wrote his roster for Wednesday’s game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

“Everybody’s playing,” said Richardson. “The (Ottawa) Senators have told me the best thing is for all these guys to keep playing.”

It was business as usual for Binghamton Senators coach Luke Richardson as he wrote his roster for Wednesday’s game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

“Everybody’s playing,” said Richardson. “The (Ottawa) Senators have told me the best thing is for all these guys to keep playing.”

Once the big-league Senators announce their training camp roster, however, the Binghamton lineup figures to be in constant flux, with players going up and down like an escalator. Instead of complaining about the instability, Richardson wouldn’t have it any other way.

“This is what the process is all about, trying to make better players and make the organization stronger,” he said. “Maybe not everybody will get called up right away, but in a short season, lots of guys have a chance. When I took the job, (Binghamton assistant coach) Steve Stirling told me the best thing about this job was telling a guy he’s getting called up.”

When the Senators open camp, Richardson is expected to lose his top defence pairing of Andre Benoit and Patrick Wiercioch, his top two goaltenders, Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop, leading scorer Jakob Silfverberg, rugged defenceman Mark Borowiecki and perhaps another forward. Is that all?

Silfverberg is all but assured of staying once the NHL regular season starts. Bishop and Lehner will fight for the job to back-up number one goaltender Craig Anderson — “if (Lehner) comes in here and plays the way played in Binghamton, it will be hard not to give him games,” general manager Bryan Murray said Wednesday.

The call-ups on defence will all receive a long look before Murray makes a decision on whether to pursue a veteran, either through a trade or free agency. He suggests a move can even wait until the regular season starts.

“We’ll take a couple of days and see where we are,” Murray said. “We’ve talked to other teams that have excellent defencemen. I think there is a deal to be made.”

The Senators general manager is aware that “we also have to be a little cautious about taking everybody out of Binghamton and affect their team greatly.”

Just the same, Murray was in a chipper, confident mood as he talked about the organizational depth – quite the contrast to the mood in Toronto following the firing of former GM Brian Burke – claiming that seven or eight players in Binghamton could comfortably step up to play in the NHL.

Richardson is prepared for that possibility, knowing that the pressure to win immediately is much greater during a 48-game schedule. For every player who gets called up to the NHL from Binghamton, a player gets recalled to Binghamton from Elmira of the ECHL.

“It keeps a healthy competition, everybody pushing together,” said Richardson. “But it will be the same for every team. We have 17 games in March and I’m sure the NHL teams will have 17 or 18 games in March and if there are bumps and bruises, or guys not playing well, I’m sure Paul (MacLean, Senators coach) won’t be afraid to call somebody up.”

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